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Architectural space – photographs by Jason Oddy

May 26, 2014
Moldova Sanatoirium, Odessa, Ukraine, 1999 'All photos courtesy Jason Oddy / Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam'

Moldova Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine, 1999. All photos courtesy Jason Oddy / Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam

I recently saw Jason Oddy’s brilliant exhibition at the University of Hertfordshire Galleries. His photographs show interiors of institutional buildings associated with power and control, including the Pentagon, a former Nazi holiday camp (seriously) and the UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.


The Palace of Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, 1999. All photos courtesy Jason Oddy / Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam

Oddy’s photographs, taken on (as he describes it) a “slow moving” large format camera, work in purely visual terms as formal studies of architectural space and often kitschy interiors. But Oddy says that “the real subject of the work was not so much the spaces themselves but rather the process of engaging with space. And that the photographs I was making were more than anything else the concrete traces of this engagement.” This approach to art making reminds me of the work of  many land artists, where the artefact – photograph, map or sculpture – is the  documentary evidence of a deeper engagement with a place.

And yet, for all their concentration on space, it is the historical associations linked to these places that make them so poignant. For example, the first nuclear weapon tested was assembled at the McDonald Range House, in New Mexico.

trinity test site005

McDonald Range House, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, 2009. All photos courtesy Jason Oddy / Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam

But my favourite work in the show is the Moldova Sanatorium, Odessa, Ukraine. Here, as in all these photographs, there are no people present, but they are suggested by the empty plastic chairs (chairs are a big theme in Oddy’s work) and by the authoritarian looking sculpture of a swimmer on the wall of the pool.



From → Architecture, Art

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